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AV Rant #561: Canadian Dolby Vision Rant

October 27th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Bill for his PayPal donation, our 28 Patreon Patrons, and Steve from NextGenHomeTheater.com for telling SVS that we are the reason be bought two new SB-2000 subwoofers.

In the news, Rob begins the podcast with a rant about HDR video. And LG’s 2017 OLED TVs support lossless Atmos after a firmware update that provides Dolby TrueHD decoding capability.

Lee Overstreet, our AVRant Co-host Pinch Hitter, realized that its his 5th anniversary of appearing on AVRant. And Nathan D. heard Gary Yacoubian, President of SVS, talking about some upcoming products on the Beginner Audiophile Podcast, including: bringing 16-Ultra Series tech down to lower price points, introducing DTS Play-Fi products, and showing a prototype Prime Wireless speaker at CES 2018.

Jonathan F. wants to understand the meaning and purpose of Mark Henninger’s AVS Forum article, “How To: Converting Passive Speakers to Active Speakers“. And he also gets our thoughts on TickBox being sued by…well…everybody for copyright infringement. And Daniel A. wants to expand his whole house audio system to his outdoor hot tub, so we recommend the RBH R8 Outdoor Rock Speaker or Yamaha All-Weather Speakers, connected with Direct Burial Outdoor Speaker Wire to a Dayton Audio APA102 amplifier if the rest of his whole house speakers are already self-amplified, or to a Dayton Distribution Amplifier.

Brandon M. wants a Kodi or Plex Server that’s easy to maintain and can handle some light transcoding for accessing his content library remotely over the internet, so we recommend an NVidia Shield TV as his server and playback device, and suggest a Synology J Series NAS device for his storage needs. And Ronnie S. lives in Alaska, and he plans to move to a larger house next year. He wants an amplifier for 11 speaker Atmos now and with the headroom for any future setup while considering shipping costs and potential repairs in the future. Tom thinks he should spend as little as possible on an Audio Source AMP100 and only add more amps later if necessary, while Rob thinks an Emotiva BasX A-5175 strikes the right balance of power, price, and size.

Antonio T. found a used SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer and wants to know if he can pair it with his SVS PB10-NSD. Patrick P. understands our previous recommendation to get open-back headphones, but he wants them to be wireless and support Bluetooth. We urge him to still consider the Sennheiser HD 559, but we mention the Sennheiser RS 120, which are wireless, but not Bluetooth, and the Sennheiser PXC 550, which are wireless, Bluetooth, and offer a Talk Through feature with a double-tap of the ear-cup, but they’re expensive. And Rob G. is struggling to get his dual subwoofer bass to integrate well with all 11 of his speakers, so we talk about phase settings, and our suspicions that his Front Towers are set to Large or a low crossover frequency.

Adam K. double checks the way he goosed his subwoofer output level, and he’s noticed a noise floor hiss for the first time, and he wants to know if connecting more speakers will only make it worse. Robert F. wants to know if his 2016 LG OLED can provide better audio via HDMI-ARC vs. TOSLink, and also whether his Marantz SR6010 requires HDMI-CEC to be active in order for HDMI-ARC to function. And David B. elicits our thoughts on the latest Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer.

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AV Rant #560: Indignity of Relaxing

October 21st, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Robert, who donated twice, and our awesome Patreon Patrons, as well as Byron S. for talking us up to SVS, and Tony K. for mentioning us to Accessories4Less and SVS.

And shout outs to Mark over at Accessories4Less, and Mike, once again, for supplying Tom with his new Denon AVR-X4300H AV Receiver, and the fine folks over at Oppo Digital, and Nathan D., for supplying Rob with an Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player. We share our early impressions of both pieces of gear, and in both cases, we have some thoughts and experiences that you might not expect.

We will be interviewing a rep from SurgeX on Oct. 26, so please send in any questions you might have about power protection to [email protected]

In the news, Disney greatly expanded their Movies Anywhere service to include movies from most other studios across four major download services. rent4K.com is a new place to rent Ultra HD Blu-rays by mail, although unlike 3D Blu-ray Rental, they only send one disc at a time on a pay-per-rental basis for now. And to experience the pinnacle of video game design, you can check out Ennuigi, in which you can “spend some time with a depressed, laconic Luigi as he chain smokes and wanders through a crumbling Mushroom Kingdom”.

Dave B. recommends the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack for some “spine-crushing bass”. Karl R. shared some articles covering: HDMI 2.1 features, connecting the new Apple TV 4K, and whether 4K DLP projectors are genuinely 4K. Byron S. sorted out his 12V trigger situation and loves his extendable TV mount. And Mitch R. shared his completed home theater setup.

Infinite Gary prods us to describe scenarios in which we’d approve of ButtKickers or bass shakers, he asks why most home theater recliners have high seat backs, he asks why the Dolby Audio logo appears on movies that use a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, and he’d like to know why his Denon DVD-A1 Blu-ray player cannot play many Blu-ray bonus features. Michael L. wants to know if using the TT Dynamic Range Meterand the Dynamic Range Database are good ways to find new audition tracks, why some unlikely-sounding tracks have the highest dynamic range, and what movies and songs Tom and Rob use for auditions. And Ryan L. wants to gradually build an immersive audio system, so we discuss starting with 2.1 vs. 3.1, Towers vs. bookshelf speakers, and some internet-direct speaker brands to audition and compare, including: Aperion Audio, SVS, and Ascend Acoustics.

Jim B. wants to adjust the subwoofer output level from his Denon AVR-X3300W, but there are multiple settings menus, so he wants to know which one to use. Biv asks how to connect his headphone amplifier to his AV Receiver, and how to connect his iPhone to his analogue integrated amplifier, which we say can be done in simple fashion with a 3.5mm to RCA adapter cable. And Gavin W. wants an affordable 55-inch TV with all the bells and whistles, so we suggest either the TCL 55P607 or a Vizio M-Series.

Bill W. has already built two previous dedicated home theaters, but now he’s building an entire house, and his theater plans are a blank slate. We discuss ideal room dimensions, acoustically transparent screens, screens sizes and seating distances, Atmos speaker configurations, soundproofing, airlock-style doors, including a lobby outside the theater, and several other planning and construction details. Kris I. gets us to go over his audio output settings for his gaming PC. And Kevin A. found some previous flagship Yamaha Towers at a thrift shop, but he can’t understand the 4-way crossover design choices, and wants to know what we think of his modifications.

Ted M. gets our thoughts on the AluminyzeSound SoundWall. Tony K. has us list a bunch of older amplifier brands that he could keep an eye out for when searching for good, used gear. And Dave asks, what is the best type of connection for a subwoofer.

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AV Rant #559: Canadian Conversion

October 13th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Donald and Micah for their PayPal donations, our Patreon subscribers, including Kris I., Michael I. for telling Ascend Acoustics that his Sierra-2 speaker purchase was thanks to our recommendation, James C. for letting SVS know his PC-2000 subwoofer purchase was because of us, and Oppo for sending Rob one of their UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray players to make sure we’re always up to date with its latest abilities.

We are still working on scheduling interviews with RBH Sound, SurgeX power protection, and Brent Butterworth. So if you have any questions you’d like us to ask them, please email them to us at [email protected]

In the news, David B. made some awesome fan art for our Producer Austen’s podcast, We Watch Movies, which you can see in the YouTube Video for this episode. Efrain, who lives in Puerto Rico, let us know that he’s alive and ok, but communication is still very limited. The Home Theater Geeks Podcast was cancelled by the TWiT Network. The mini SNES Classic Edition has already been cracked to run side loaded game ROMs. And the TCL 75C807 brings a 75-inch screen size with Dolby Vision and Roku 4K down to just $2,000.

Tim K. updates us on his rattling fireplace and using an Oppo Ultra HD Blu-ray player as an HDR10 and lossless audio splitter. Jonathan shared Paul and Storm’s “Thanksgiving (George Lucas)” song (with some NSFW language). Michael I. compared a pair of KEF LS50 speakers to a pair of Ascend Sierra-2 and quickly decided which pair he’s keeping. Marc N. tried one of the Marseille mCables, but had some issues with it. And Justin B. says he has a cat who really did use his speakers as scratching posts, so he suggests the older Pioneer Andrew Jones FS-51 Towers or Martin Logan Motion Series Tower as options with metal grills, while Tom recommends the Catscram Electronic Cat Repellent.

Jaremy P. resisted the temptation to open a brand new Denon AVR-X6400H and will use an AVR-X4300H instead. He wants to know which external amplifier he should buy now, and while we think he should just keep one of the amps he already owns, if he’s going to buy a new one, we suggest a Monoprice Monolithmodel. And Don G. gets more of our thoughts on seating distance, we recommend Focal Bird speakers mounted on his ceiling for Atmos, we remind him of the Outdoor Speaker Depot MK650 in-ceiling speaker model, talk about potential projection screen and projector placement, suggest installing 20 amp electrical circuits, and offer HT Market HT Design Seating as an affordable option for recliners.

Daniel A. wants to check whether any of his speakers are wired out of phase, so we suggest the Spears and Munsil HD Benchmark 2nd Edition setup disc or using the THX Tune-up App, although that will require manually moving some wires around. Bobby M. has finalized his seating, which might mean a different choice of Surround speaker model is in order. And if he decides to build DIY subwoofers, we think a Behringer NU3000 amplifier would power it nicely. And Patrick P. wants an inexpensive desktop speaker so directional, it won’t be heard by anyone but him. We couldn’t think of anything that meets all of his criteria, so we suggest a pair of open back headphones like the Sennheiser HD 559.

Karl R. wants to know what picture mode and settings he ought to use with his JVC X750R projector when watching the slightly unusual 1080p HDR signal being used for Star Trek: Discovery, and he also asks what BT.2020 content is all about. Marc N. wants to know all about the miniDSP nanoAVR-DL with Dirac Live room correction and how it compares to Audyssey MultEQ XT32. Lemuel G. has a large room and five Focal Electra speakers, so we once again recommend the Focal Bird speakers for his Atmos positions, and discuss which configuration would be best. And Byron S. is using 12 Volt triggers, but he’s getting a hum, so we troubleshoot his connection paths.

Jonathan F. shares a laugh at the idea of using virtual and mixed reality to simulate mundane tasks and office work. Mike F. wants to stream 4K Vudu content to his 1080p projector so that he can retain the Dolby Atmos audio, but he’d need a $180 HD Fury Linker to ensure that works properly. Kris I. has us go over his computer’s output settings to make sure they’re all correct for his Epson 5040UB projector. And Dave M. gets our thoughts on figuring out the optimum height for mounting a display.

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AV Rant #558: No Emotion, Just Logic

October 6th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are John and Jason for their donations, our new AVRant Patreon patrons, Dave for letting Accessories4Less know he heard about them from us, Terry for letting SVS know his Prime Satellite purchase was because of our recommendation, and Kris for offering to hook Tom up with a discount on a Motorola smartphone.

We are attempting to schedule a few interviews. So if you have any questions for RBH Sound, SurgeX power protection, or Brent Butterworth – former editor-in-chief of Home Theater Magazine – please email them to us ([email protected]).

In the news, 2016 Denon & Marantz AV Receivers now have access to the firmware update that adds Dolby Vision and HLG pass-through support. Denon UK and Marantz UK both posted notifications that 2015 models will receive the update in 2018. Google Play and Amazon lowered their 4K movie prices to compete with Apple. The new $70 Amazon Fire TV supports 4K, HDR10, Dolby Atmos, but not Dolby Vision. And Emotiva added the XPA-9 Gen3 and XPA-11 Gen3 amplifiers to their lineup using their new stereo amplifier “blades”.

Tom K. has a dedicated theater, but it has passive vents for air circulation, so he asks whether those make it more difficult to pressurize his room with bass. Damien D. wants to know which $500 or less subwoofer he should buy for an open concept space. We think the SVS PB-1000 would be his best option in terms of performance, but he’d prefer smaller and cheaper, so the RSL Speedwoofer 10S is also recommended. And Karl R. gets our thoughts on the Dreamscape Immersive virtual reality multiplex experiences being added to AMC theaters.

Dave asks what the RS-232 and Remote In & Out ports are for on the backs of some AV Receivers. Jaremy P. wants Dolby Vision pass-through right now, so we discuss his options for replacing his Marantz AV7702 MK2 pre-pro, with our top recommendation being a Denon AVR-X4300H. Michael I. gets some tips on how to conduct a fair listening comparison between a pair of KEF LS50 and Ascend Sierra-2 speakers. And Jason B. wants to construct a dedicated theater in his basement, so we begin the process by discussing the overall layout and orientation of the room, as well as some construction and code concerns that might require some professional assistance.

Marc found the Marseille mCable Series HDMI cables. There’s a Gaming Edition that adds anti-aliasing, and a Cinema Edition that scales any image to 4K and adds edge enhancement. We also discuss some speaker settings when using Room EQ Wizard to take measurements. Kris I. wants to connect both a home theater system and an Oculus Rift to his gaming PC, so we suggest using a Club3D Displayport to HDMI Adapter for one of those connections. Jeff G. gets some more input regarding his Top Middle speakers and what he should do to make them more noticeable overhead. And David B. stumps us by asking for Tower speakers with metal grills to thwart a cat. We question the scenario a little bit, but suggest some Klipsch Towers with their fabric grills removed.

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AV Rant #557: Tom Doesn’t Thread

September 29th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Lemuel and Tony for their donations, Blaine D. for mentioning us to HSU during his VTF-3 MK5 HP purchase and Nathan D. for talking us up to Oppo, and Mike for hooking us up with Mark from Accessories4Less who came through big time with a Denon AVR-X4300H AV Receiver for Tom!

We know we have listeners who live in Puerto Rico, like our good friend Efrain, and we are praying that everyone is safe after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria. If you are able to help, PBS has information and a list of organizations to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.

Back in home theater land, Rob was a guest on the Entertainment 2.0 Podcast with Josh Pollard to talk about 4K HTPCs. And last year’s Denon AV Receivers have started getting the firmware update that adds Dolby Vision and HLG pass through support.

CORRECTION: Nathan D. and Earle let us know that Oppo UDP-203 and 205 Ultra HD Blu-ray players can pass 4K HDR10 signals through their HDMI inputs and separate the HDMI audio thanks to a recent firmware update. Our words last week on that topic were incorrect.

Last week, Jim asked why Denon and Marantz Receivers don’t include a graph for the subwoofer in their Audyssey results menu, and Chris Kyriakakis himself responded that it’s something Denon/Marantz decided to omit years ago, and they’ve simply never changed it. Infinite Gary’s brother-in-law shared a photo of some huge, horn-loaded, tube-amp-driven speakers that we can’t identify. And we revisit the anonymous listener who had some blown planar tweeters to reveal they were RAAL ribbons in a pair of Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2, so we’re very curious to know if any other owners have ever experienced similar damage.

Michael I. asks us to clarify which audio formats can pass through TOSLink, which formats can pass through HDMI ARC, and what sort of audio does the new Apple TV 4K support? Grant A. asks why a single Surround Back speaker doesn’t seem to work with Atmos or DTS:X, whether he should consider a speaker like the SVS Ultra Surround that can play in dual mono mode, or what else he could do to play two Surround Back channels from one speaker location. And Jonathan F. questions Andrew Jones’ ELAC Adante Seriesspeakers: why a dual-driver subwoofer, but not dual subs, why include gloves to handle the speakers, and why use something as inelegant as a “rubber wedge” to angle the Center speaker?

Bill P. wants to know if he can use his older Denon AVR-X3000 Receiver strictly as an amplifier to bi-amp his Front Towers in a 7.2.4 configuration. Jeff G. followed Dolby’s guidelines and placed his Top Middle speakers the same distance apart as his Front L/R speakers, but he isn’t hearing them as distinctly as he would like as a result, so we discuss ways to compensate. Infinite Gary wants to know what it would take for a display calibration graph to show no errors whatsoever. And Brandon G. asks about adjusting the volume levels of his subwoofers and Center speaker after having run Audyssey.

Justin B. wants a small, affordable, down-firing subwoofer, so we suggest the Outlaw Audio M8. We also talk about the new Monoprice Monolith Desktop THX Headphone Amplifier and DAC and it’s inclusion of Dirac Sensaround. Brandon N. wants an Atmos setup in his theater along with a Zone 2 setup, so we recommend a Yamaha RX-A3060 or RX-A3070 with Yamaha’s MusicCast system. And Karl R. found an HDMI cable at the Apple Store claiming to be “Ultra High Speed” with “bandwidth up to 48 Gbps, so we debunk some of the naming with the official HDMI Specification 2.1.

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